Sunday, 1 March 2015

Campeche, Palenque and San Cristobal in a Flash

Continuing with our Mexican theme of moving on every two nights, our next stop brought us to Campeche. This colonial city along the coast was picture perfect behind its protective walls. Everything has been perfectly restored, from the buildings with bright coloured walls to the orderly cobble stone streets making it all feel a little fake. By this time we had been moving along so quickly we hadn't made friends for awhile, so I was hopeful this city would introduce us to someone new. In the comforts of our hotel my wish was granted when we met a lovely Mexican family who was house hunting in Campeche. They were excited to learn we were from Canada and even with our limited communication we built a connection with this dear family who wish to visit Canada some day. Also, to our delight we happened to be in Campeche for Carnival. The music and costumes were stunning, especially against the back drop of the Central Park which came complete with a stunningly restored Catholic Church. Couples both young and old were crowned as King and Queen, warming my heart to see the people's respect for their seniors.

Back on the ruin hunting trail we landed in Palenque on a dark and rainy night. Without a hostel booked we tagged along with a backpacking couple from Hong Kong. Their companionship was most welcomed as our walk through town in the rain was very uncomfortable as the locals glared and swore in our faces along the way. This was the first place on our trip where the whole town seemed unwelcoming. It made me sad to think how people before us must have wronged them in order for them to hate us so. Thankfully, our friendship with the couple from China grew quickly which afforded us the opportunity to celebrate the Chinese New Year with them in a small way. To top things off, we discovered our plan to fast track Mexico was identical to theirs, a welcomed discovery with 3 more long bus rides ahead. Our purpose in coming to Palenque was to visit the Mayan Ruin site which once again was very impressive. The ruins left behind by the ancient Maya never cease to amaze us in their architectural scope and grandure. With some buildings at this site taking nearly 4 centuries to reveal their final form, it is nearly unimaginable to think that 10-12 generations of people witnessed this structure grow from beginning to end. 

Glad to be leaving a city that definitely did not want us there, we were back on the bus with our friends for an all day journey to the mountain city of San Cristobal. This colonial mountain town had a cozy feel and the people were very friendly, a welcomed relief after Palenque. However, the poverty appeared to be greater than we had seen in many of our past stops making us more than happy to do a little more gift shopping in the street market to support the local people. In San Cristobal we enjoyed many delicious meals at some of the cheapest prices we had seen on the trip, most of which we enjoyed with our kind friends. Even while in a beautiful setting such as we were, the ugly side of travelling doesn't end and we found ourselves spending too much time finalizing our flight home. Although we were happy with the result of our time spent working on our flight, it was difficult to swallow the precious time wasted which could have been used to explore the many magnificent sights San Cristobal had to offer. With our final days of this trip fast approaching we booked a night bus to Oaxaca and said goodbye to a city we never were able to fully appreciate. Such is life on the road.


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